Only in Florida
Remember last year, when I posted about the Mullet Toss (here's a refresher... in case you missed it). Good news this year... I didn't get hit by a fish. We all had a few close calls, though. Much like a football, they often bounce unpredictably after hitting the ground.
This one almost bounced out of bounds. To be honest, in the world of Mullet Tossing, I'm not sure if landing on the foul line makes it foul or fair. So don't ask.
There was, once again, an unusual assortment of folks at the Mullet Toss. The crowd wasn't as big as last year's... they had to re-schedule it to a later date this year, and a lot of the snowbirds had already left Southwest Florida for cooler climates.
The die-hards were still there, though. This guy was really competitive. He brought special boots to wear when it was his turn, did his share of trash-talking, and had one of the best tosses we saw (about 90 feet, If I remember correctly). He threw at least three times-- at $5 a pop.
Of course, some people do it just for the novelty of the event. I got a kick out of this woman, who (forgive the pun), looked a bit like a fish out of water. Not that Matlacha doesn't have it's share of bikers-- it does. But most of the folks there were dressed a little more casually. She was a trooper though, and despite the fact that she didn't come close to breaking any mullet toss records, she at least looked like a bad-ass doing it.
But like I said, for the most part, the Mullet Toss is a pretty casual event. It's hosted annually in Matlacha, with is an odd (but very cool) little fishing village-turned-artists community. Cute little galleries are surrounded by tiny little trailers. But don't let the single-wides in the background fool you. They're all on canals, and waterfront property in these parts doesn't come cheap (even with the current miserable state of Southwest Florida property values). Many of these single-wides have docks with boat lifts, and nice little boats parked outside... probably worth more than their homes are.
Back behind the main strip in town are a bunch of nice waterfront homes. Nothing fancy-schmancy, no "McMansions." But nice. In fact, the CEO where I work lives in Matlacha. But I digress.
Much like the attractions a few hours up the road in Orlando, the Mullet Toss is fun for the whole family. Little kids toss their mullets first. This little girl was a bit too fascinated by the whole process. After her tosses (which maybe went about five feet), she spent the rest of the afternoon chasing down other people's mullets. However, instead of gently carrying them back to the starting line (home plate?), like the other children did, she chose instead to practice her tossing skills on the way back. With each toss, her fish would get guttier and nastier, until she finally got back to the starting line and handed the fish to the next contestant.
Not surprisingly, it seemed as though the fish weren't lasting quite as long as they were at last year's event. Hmmm... wonder why?
Every time I tell people that we went to the Mullet Toss, they always pepper us with questions. The first question they ask is always did we do it ourselves.
The answer, once again, is no. No amount of coercion could get Cory to do it this year, and I didn't want to come home smelling like dead fish like I did last year.
But there are plenty of other questions. Some involve throwing style, some involve animal abuse (the fish are dead and frozen before the tossing, in case you're curious), and some folks just want to know if a lot of people with mullets attend the mullet toss (the answer is of course, yes. Florida has a pretty high redneck quotient, especially after the snowbirds leave town).
But most people just want to know what it's like. And here, I can help. I shot a little 20 second video with my camera this year. This guy had some of the longest tosses I've seen (about 100 feet), so grab some popcorn and enjoy: